Edwin M. Yamauchi

Edwin M. Yamauchi

Dr. Edwin Maseo Yamauchi, born in 1937 in Hilo, Hawaii, is Professor of History at Miami University, Ohio, United States, and has served in that capacity since 1969. He is an American of Japanese descent, and is married to Kimie Honda.

Education and Career

Yamauchi began language studies at the University of Hawaii but then transferred his candidacy to studying Biblical languages at Shelton College, Ringwood, New Jersey, and received his B.A. degree there. He then enrolled in Mediterranean studies for his M.A. degree at Brandeis University, and then pursued studies in Mandaean Gnostic texts as part of his Ph.D. dissertation at Brandeis University. At Brandeis he studied under the late Cyrus Gordon, and expanded his linguistic studies in ancient near eastern languages, which included Hebrew, Aramaic, Akkadian, Ugaritic, Arabic, Syriac, and Coptic. In all he has immersed himself in 22 different languages.

Yamauchi taught for a time at Shelton College, before becoming an Assistant Professor of history at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey. He then received his professorial appointment at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.

Yamauchi's areas of expertise include: Ancient History, Old Testament, New Testament, Early Church History, Gnosticism, and Biblical Archaeology. He has been awarded eight fellowships, contributed chapters to several books, articles in reference works, and has published 80 essays in 37 scholarly journals. He has been a member and officer of the Institute for Biblical Research, an organization of scholars devoted to the research of the Bible.

Much of Yamauchi's literary work has concentrated on historical questions of the interrelationship between ancient near eastern cultures and the biblical texts. This is reflected in his books on Greece, Babylon, Persia, and ancient Africa, as well as in various monographs on the archaeological discoveries related to biblical studies. Yamauchi has also contributed essays to various reference works in biblical studies and Christian history, and written commentaries on the books of Ezra and Nehemiah in the Expositor's Bible Commentary series that was edited by Frank Gaebelein. Yamauchi contributed the notes on Ezra and Nehemiah in the NIV Study Bible.

Other areas where Yamauchi has written include the social and cultural history of first century Christianity, the relevance of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls for New Testament studies, the primary source value of Josephus' writings, and the role of the Magi in both ancient Persia and in the nativity narrative of the Gospel of Matthew.

Yamauchi is also noted for several books and essays on ancient gnosticism. He has been highly critical of scholars, such as Rudolf Bultmann, who have used third and fourth century AD Gnostic texts as primary evidence for the existence of pre-Christian gnosticism.

In the 1970s he was a prominent critic of the late Morton Smith's interpretation of an apocryphal text known as the Secret Gospel of Mark. Yamauchi revisited the corpus of Smith's writings on the topics of the lost gospels and Jesus as a magician-healer in his lengthy essay on magic and miracles (1986). Yamauchi faulted Smith's work on several points. One problem Yamauchi found was Smith's anachronistic use of third, fourth and fifth century AD Greek magical papyri sources in his reinterpretation of Christ as a magus-magician. He argued that Smith's "penchant for parallels with the life of Apollonius by Philostratus" was "historically anachronistic" ("Magic or Miracle?" in Gospel Perspectives, p. 96). Yamauchi also indicated that Smith had taken passages from the Greek magical papyri out of context to support his argument that Jesus and early Christians practiced magic.

Yamauchi formally retired from his duties as Professor of History in June 2005.

Personal Faith

Yamauchi was raised by his mother - his father died when he was four years old - in a nominal Buddhist context in Hawaii. He was sent to an Episcopalian school called Iolani in his seventh grade. In 1952 he shifted from a nominal church commitment to a personal, evangelical faith in Christ. In his senior high school year Yamauchi studied at a rural school and worked at a missionary farm known as the Christian Youth Center.

Yamauchi is a founding member of the Oxford Bible Fellowship church in Oxford, Ohio. He has been a supporter of the Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship throughout his career, and particularly at the campus of Miami University. He has contributed popular articles to periodicals like Christianity Today magazine on the resurrection of Christ and in response to controversial claims made about the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Yamauchi was featured in the widely read Christian apologetic work The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel. He has given presentations on the Easter story to such universities as Cornell, Yale, and Princeton. He has also appeared in various television documentaries concerning the life of Christ.

Select Bibliography

  • ed., Africa and Africans in Antiquity (East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2001). ISBN 0-87013-507-4
  • Africa and the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004). ISBN 0-8010-2686-5
  • Archaeology and the Bible (with Donald J. Wiseman) (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979). ISBN 0-310-38341-2
  • The Archaeology of New Testament Cities in Western Asia Minor (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980). ISBN 0-8010-9915-3
  • "A Secret Gospel of Jesus as 'Magus'? A Review of the Recent Works of Morton Smith," Christian Scholar's Review, 4/3 (1975): 238-251.
  • Chronos, Kairos, Christos: Nativity and Chronological Studies Presented to Jack Finegan (co-edited with Jerry Vardaman) (Winona Lake: Eisenbruans, 1989). ISBN 0-931464-50-1
  • Composition and Cooroboration in Classical and Biblical Studies (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing, 1966).
  • "The Descent of Ishtar, The Fall of Sophia, and the Jewish Roots of Gnosticism," Tyndale Bulletin, 29 (1978): 143-175.
  • Foes From The Northern Frontier (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1982). ISBN 0-8010-9918-8
  • Gnostic Ethics and Mandaean Origins (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970).
  • Greece and Babylon (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1967).
  • Harper's World of the New Testament (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981). ISBN 0-06-069708-3
  • "Immanuel Velikovsky's Catastrophic History," Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation, 25/4 (December 1973): 134-139.
  • "Jewish Gnosticism? The Prologue of John, Mandaean Parallels and the Trimorphic Protennoia," in Studies in Gnosticism and Hellenistic Religions, R. van den Broek and M. J. Vermaseren, eds. (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1981): 467-497.
  • "Josephus and the Scriptures" Fides et Historia, 13/1 (Fall 1980): 42-63.
  • "Magic or Miracle? Diseases, Demons and Exorcisms," in Gospel Perspectives Vol. 6: The Miracles of Jesus, David Wenham and Craig Blomberg, eds. (Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1986): 89-183.
  • Mandaic Incantation Texts (New Haven: American Oriental Society, 1967).
  • Peoples of the Old Testament World, (co-edited with Alfred J. Hoerth and Gerald L. Mattingly) (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1994) ISBN 0-8010-4383-2
  • Persia and the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1990). ISBN 0-8010-9899-8
  • Pre-Christian Gnosticism:A Survey of the Proposed Evidences (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1973) ISBN 0-8028-3429-9 (Revised edition, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983) ISBN 0-8010-9919-6
  • "Pre-Christian Gnosticism in the Nag Hammadi Texts?" Church History, 48 (1979): 129-141.
  • "The Present Status of Mandaean Studies," Journal of Near Eastern Studies, 25 (1966): 88-96.
  • The Stones and The Scriptures (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1972) ISBN 0-87981-002-5
  • The Story of the Church (with Robert G. Clouse and Richard V. Pierard) (Chicago: Moody Press, 2002) ISBN 0-8024-2481-3
  • "Tammuz and the Bible," Journal of Biblical Literature, 84 (1965): 283-290.
  • Two Kingdoms: The Church and Culture Through the Ages (with Robert G. Clouse and Richard V. Pierard) (Chicago: Moody Press, 1993). ISBN 0-8024-8590-1


  • Molefi K. Asante, "Africa and Africans in Antiquity (review)"

Research in African Literatures, 34/3, (Fall 2003): 178-182.

  • Grant LeMarquand, Africa and the Bible, Anglican Theological Review, Fall 2005

External links

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